Letter of the week: What liberals want

New Statesman

18 November 2020

New Statesman

Helen Thompson’s column on whether the US can ever go green raises important points, but obscures others (These Times, 6 November). The argument – that ten million people being employed in the US oil and gas industry precludes successful green policies because they would threaten American economic growth and geopolitical strength – invites another perspective.


The ten million or so in fossil fuel industries represents around 6.4 per cent of the total 156 million in the workforce, and little more than 0.5 per cent (or $100bn) of US GDP. The economic challenge is surely not all it seems.


What lies at the heart of the challenge is dysfunctional American governance, at federal and state levels, and corporate governance. The first-past-the-post electoral system and entrenched lobbying – as in Britain – make meaningful debate about vital strategic economic choices almost impossible. The recent UN report on sustainable development reveals the huge scale of the challenge. Promises galore. Little real action. No progress.


Alternative models of governance in Europe and Germany, in particular, are never seriously examined in the English-speaking press. Alas Nero’s Rome, as a consequence, continues to burn ever more brightly while China plays its winning hand.

Richard Tudway

Richard Tudway

Principal

The Centre for International Economics